Housing crisis

Local candidates offer solutions to the housing crisis

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Housing and homelessness are some of the dominant issues prevailing in the 2022 Ontario General Election for candidates across the province.

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The Daily Press asked the five local candidates vying for the role of MPP to give their position on various housing issues.

New Blue candidate David Farrell and Green Party candidate Elizabeth Lockhard could not be reached for comment.

Three candidates participated: Gilles Bisson from the NDP, George Pirie from the PC Party of Ontario and Nadia Sadiq from the Provincial Confederation Party of the Regions of Ontario.

What would you do to improve the housing affordability situation?

BISSON: “There has been no non-profit housing construction in recent years under the Conservative and Liberal governments. The NDP would invest in the construction of additional non-profit housing to allow people to find a place to live within their means.

“Additionally, we need to find ways to help people who want to build their own homes by reducing costs through better planning methods and including access to loans for new first-time home buyers. “

PIRIE: “Housing affordability is a national issue, not just a local one. At a time when Ontario’s population is growing, only Ontario CPs have a proven plan and track record of reducing costs for families by building 1.5 million new homes over 10 years.

“For 15 years, Del Duca-Wynne Liberals let the housing crisis spiral out of control by adding mountains of red tape that made building homes nearly impossible. The NDP and the Liberals want more reports, committees and studies for new subdivisions, because they find every reason to say “no” to building more houses, which makes the cost of buying even more high for Ontario families.

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“Under Doug Ford’s leadership, the PC government has created the province’s first-ever housing supply action plan to cut red tape and get more homes built faster. The plan is paying off: In 2021, Ontario opened a record number of new homes with more than 100,000 in just 12 months, the highest level of new housing starts in a single year since 1987.”

SADIQ: “Lack of housing and high rents are the number one cause of homelessness in Timmins right now.

“The government must provide subsidies for housing. A kind of help for people who have trouble finding suitable accommodation.

Should the province preside over rent control?

BISSON: “Since the Harris Conservatives removed rent control, the cost of rent has skyrocketed. Doug Ford rolled back rent control on new units, resulting in huge rent increases for tenants. Some form of rent control must return in order to stabilize the market. The NDP is committed to restoring rent control.

PIRIE: “The Ontario PC Party has made changes to stimulate the construction of new rental housing, and our approach is working. In 2020, the year after the release of our government’s housing supply action plan, Ontario had more than 11,000 rental housing starts. Last year, rental housing starts were the highest in 30 years.

“The previous government presided over soaring house prices and rents, and when it had the opportunity to support faster house building, it voted no.

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“While Doug Ford and the PC Ontario team have said yes to historic supports for tenants, including enhanced tenant protections against bad faith evictions, including renovictions, and funding of more than $3 billion to help maintain, repair and expand community housing and address homelessness in Ontario, Andrea Horwath and the NDP also said no.

SADIQ: “They have to cap rents at a certain point that is affordable for everyone.

“I know it takes a lot to renovate buildings, with wood and labor prices, but the government needs to step in and provide incentives. They cannot just sit and watch as it becomes unaffordable for people to live in decent housing.

“Housing is a fundamental human right. They can’t just monopolize it out of greed.

Should the province offer first-time homebuyer incentives?

BISSON: “As mentioned before, we need to find ways to be able to provide access to loans for new home buyers.

“We need to provide access to reasonable loans for homebuyers and simplify the planning process to allow for the creation of new developments.

PIRIE: “Incentives are generally a shared responsibility. For example, the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive is a Government of Canada Shared Mortgage.

“It offers:

5% or 10% for the purchase of a first buyer of a newly built home

5% for the purchase of a first buyer of an (existing) resale home

5% for the purchase of a first buyer of a new or resale mobile/manufactured home

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“The incentive shared mortgage is where the government has a shared investment in the house. As a result, the government shares in both the rise and fall in property value.

“By getting the incentive, the borrower may not have to save as much of a down payment to be able to pay the payments associated with the mortgage. The effect of a larger down payment is a smaller mortgage and ultimately lower monthly costs.

“The homebuyer will be required to repay the incentive based on the fair market value of the property at the time of repayment. If a homebuyer received a 5% incentive, they would repay 5% of the home’s value at the time of repayment. If a homebuyer received a 10% incentive, they would repay 10% of the home’s value at the time of repayment.

SADIQ: “Right now, housing is commodified, and that puts people in a lot of misery. The government seems to feed on this misery. They are well aware of the big housing problems, but it has really done nothing to combat this problem.

Should the province put more emphasis on creating social housing?

BISSON: “We need to invest in non-profit housing. The NDP has pledged to build 100,000 public housing units over the next decade and to upgrade 260,000 public housing units to extend their lifespan.

“The Ford Conservatives canceled the Basic Income Pilot. People must be able to work for a living wage. This is why the NDP argues that the minimum wage must be increased to $20 an hour and that ODSP and OW must also be increased in order to allow people to live with some dignity.

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“Our federal government should also consider increasing pensions for seniors. Virtually no one can afford to live on what is currently allocated by Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan.

PIRIE: “Timmins has been underfunded for many years. The local agency that administers the social housing funds (CDSSAB) is one of the least funded social services boards in Ontario. We need a fair share of provincial funds. But thanks to a ridiculous lawsuit between the City of Timmins and the province, and a complete lack of involvement by the longtime MPP to mitigate that lawsuit, CDSSAB is mysteriously underfunded. Who suffers ? Those who need social housing. I intend to change this dynamic and correct the lack of cooperation and assistance that Timmins has lacked for decades at Queens Park.

SADIQ: “The waiting list for social housing must improve drastically. Why should someone looking for affordable housing wait 10, 12 or 20 years? It’s incredible. We have so much land and so many resources. Why aren’t they used to help the poor and homeless?

How is your campaign going? What do you mean?

BISSON: “Most of the issues we’ve heard at the gates have been resolved thanks to the NPD’s comprehensive, fully costed platform. The NDP has a platform specifically for Northern Ontario that addresses key issues facing us in the North. We take nothing for granted and we are working hard to win this campaign. We feel that things are going well and are confident in the outcome of this election.

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PIRIE: “The citizens and voters of Timmins are paying a lot of attention to the myriad of issues we all face – I hear it at the doorsteps every day. Plus, though, I feel like the city is on the verge of a major boom thanks to the federal Liberal government’s and Ontario’s Conservative government’s focus on critical minerals. In the meantime, the Ontario NDP will do everything in their power to shut down our resource sector to meet the needs of their protest group masters scattered across Toronto condos.

SADIQ: “My campaign is going so well. I was very happy to meet the people of Timmins and to hear their concerns. I really want to do something for them.

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